Hand operated slide drills

hi, what do you think of using hand operated slide drills (or pump
drills), & also the egg beater type, for drilling?gold.for instance
flush setting, etc? can they be used effectively for stone setting?
i’m thinking that these could’nt be used with a burr for cutting a
seat for a gem, as? the slow speed? would cause the burr to bite??

thanks for any replys in advance


Hi Joel,

While these type of drills have been used in he past for some of the
jobs you describe, their use requires experience & a steady hand.
For the person using them only occasionally, they’re probably not a
good idea; it would take too long to develop the ‘feel’ for using
one & bit breakage & damage to the item being worked on could be
quite high.


also the egg beater type 

I occasionally use an old egg beater type of drill to twist a short
loop of round wire or when someone borrows my power drill and forgets
to put it back or charge it back up (don’t get me started). I
wouldn’t think the egg beater type of drill would be steady enough
for any precision drilling.

What about an old fashion bow drill?

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Hi, Joel. If you, or anyone, gets the results you want with any
tools, then that’s really the whole point - there really isn’t a
right and wrong to it. Traditionally, jewelers used bow drills -
that’s before electricity and still to this day, for some. Two of
the problems you’ll run into is the one you mention - there’s not
enough speed to use modern burs (there’s not, really), and the other
problem with “egg beater drills” and similar is that they take two
hands to operate. That’s the thing about bow drills, they are one
handed. Trying to mount every piece, every oddly shaped ring and
part in such a way as to be able to even drill a hole in it would be
a huge undertaking, in the long run. But again, if it works for you,
then it works…


Hi Joel,

Hand powered drills were used exclusively in the days before
electricity. You have complete control over the speed, torque and
pressure, and you can do all your stone setting with them.

You cannot shave edges or do carving with burrs in an eggbeater; for
that you need some gravers for fine work; and some small chisels and
a hammer for heavy carving.

My mentor used an achcimedes drill (like a pump drill with ropes),
but I preferred the eggbeater drill for jewellery. The eggbeater
needs to turn freely; if there is any stiffness then the sideways
forces while turning will break the small drill bits.

Electricity is not essential, but it does make things quicker and
perhaps a little easier.

Cheers, Alastair

These type of drills only work effectively with the type of drill
bits they were designed for - spear point or spade drills. These are
not readily available nowadays although they are not difficult to
make. The drillstocks will not work with modern twist drills or

Best wishes,

SEARS Hardware has a black plastic hand drill which is easy to use
and is inexpensive.? I love it - use it in places where my flexible
shaft won’t go!? I also recommend it as a starting tool for my

While these type of drills have been used in he past for some of the
jobs you describe, their use requires experience & a steady hand.